The GTCS code regarding social media and its use is clear in conveying the importance of conscientious contribution to the world of Social Media. For all the perks of the profession and the reward, it is also in the GTCS’ best interests that the teachers of Scotland conduct themselves in a manner that instils trust within the pupils, parents and society.
In my opinion I feel teachers would be perceived as out of touch and reluctant to be forward thinkers themselves if they didn’t embrace Social Media in some-way or another. Social Media should be seen as an extension of the classroom and if the teacher is willing to marry their private life to that professional space, they are doing so against guidance. Social Media as an entity is judgemental and self-involved. Understanding the intense pressure there is to be involved in Social Media is the first step. It is everywhere! Instead of adopting a “retreat!” attitude, as teachers, we should be innovating ways to make it benefit the pupils. If you want your private life to stay as such, insure you have the correct settings. I know myself that I have a private Facebook and Instagram account, however my Pintrest is public. I find Pintrest a positive space, devoid of too many trolls or negative comments and enjoy searching recipes, fashion design and rainy day projects. Social Media has the power to portray the teacher as holistic, human, relatable and approachable. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram cannot help but become personal, the line is blurred before the first post is even created. It is all about how you feel and what you think, the temptation to blurt a rant on Facebook is all too easy. Emotions are at the core, “liking”, “reposting”, “#selfie”. Marrying the private and professional aspects exposes the teacher to scrutiny and to befriend a pupil or parent goes against the guidance laid out for us as part of our regulatory body.
So, if I feel Facebook and twitter are too personal and places like glow are too professional or not inclusive of parents then what space do I use? If Social Media is to be a positive experience for all involved, what can I do to get it incorporated?
Pinterest and YouTube are easily accessible, BoB is useful for keeping track of educational programmes. I think many of these social media platforms bring the real world to the classroom. Live connections that can change the setting instantly; evoke instant emotion and discussion. Insuring first and foremost that you are well versed in the lingo, savvy about safety and aware of the omnipresence that Social Media has become. If use of social media is approached in the same manner a teacher would approach a book or a project; well planned, concise and relevant, then there is no detriment to the pupils.
We are now part of a culture that sees children exposed too young, to so many inappropriate images. The need for them to relate and conform to society is a growing pressure and instead of teachers shying away from the subject of social media they need to be seen as a guide. In saying that they also have to guide parents. Why can’t social media be used positively to bridge the gap between home and school? Indeed, between personal life and school?
I looked into this and within a few searches I found a site called Edmodo, a space for pupils, teachers and parents alike. It claims to keep parents in the loop about upcoming assignments, eases use of on the go learning and makes class comprehension something you can analyse mid lesson. For teachers it has all the benefits of social media in a professional context. This appears to be catered to the English curriculum but it’s very interesting how sleek and appealing it looks. Could it be the Facebook for teachers?
As a parent my-self the horror stories regarding misuse of Social Media seem to be splayed everywhere. This doesn’t deter me from encouraging Social Media use in the classroom but it does highlight the need for dialogue. Attitudes will not change if the horror stories are continuously repeated and then documented, ironically, on news sites and Social Media. We teach children how to cross the road, how to construct a sentence but when it comes to Social Media it appears to be them teaching us. Children are all too aware of the independence they can feel on the “big bad internet” and it is our job to show them how to handle that independence and use it to a positive end.
Children have created the frame, catapulting social media into the classroom and we must help them keep within age appropriate boundaries but make the content engaging and beneficial. They will see massive changes in their lifetime. When I was 5 I never imagined I’d be using the internet to converse with people all over the world instantaneously. Actually, when I was 5, there was no internet! If I can’t resist using Social Media in my personal life then surely I can utilise it in my professional life? By following the Professional Guidance on the Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media as guidelines we can help shape the positive use of Social Media in the classroom. There is opportunity to bypass media hegemony and use Social Media to mould a more Just society